Monday, May 19, 2008


Well, I've certainly had better times at the Stadium. For three innings, it was a brilliant game. The Yanks were getting on base against Oliver Perez, working the count, driving the Little Unit (as Perez was once known) into high pitch counts and what should have been an early shower. The Yanks hadn't been able to capitalize on the baserunners, but it felt like they were on the verge of breaking through. Chien Ming Wang, Sunday night's starter, looked sharp, retiring the first nine in order, delivering first pitch strikes, and generally being as efficient as Oliver was wasteful. I know it was too damn early to start thinking this way, but I started to imagine the emails I'd send to the various people who stood me up for this game (citing the late start, rainy forecast, and other exigents as excuses not to come to the old ballpark) if Something Special happened.

Then it all fell apart so suddenly, it was like a slap to the face. Wang lost the strike zone, falling behind hitters early. Jose Reyes responded with the game's first hit, a double, but was erased on some poor baserunning and a heads-up play by Wang on a comebacker fielder's choice. But just when it looked like things were getting back to normal, the Yankee defense deserted Wang. Alberto Gonzalez, who'd already muffed a pop-up for an error, allowed a ball to go under his glove for a single. After a walk, Jason Giambi made a nice stop at first, but instead of making sure to get an out, he threw poorly to Jeter at second, drawing the Captain off the bag. Everybody safe. Then another single by Moises Alou, and the score was 3-0.

The Yanks caught a break when the umps reversed a really bad home run call (from my seats in Section 342, one thing you do get a pretty good view of is the left field foul pole--no way that was a homer), but the beating just continued, until the Mets had batted around and the Yanks were lucky it was only 4-0. Hideki Matsui cut that lead in half with a 2-run jack in the bottom half of the inning, and when the Yankees had a man on third and one out in the fifth, it looked like the game was still manageable. That runner--Jose Molina, who'd reached on a double--was stranded, and the Yankees wouldn't have another hit all night. The gap started growing again on a Ryan Church homer, and got completely out of hand with the Mets' 6-run eighth inning. Those of us who stayed past the eighth got treated to Mets fans acting like they owned our house, having fairly uncontested chants of "Lets Go Mets" all the way to the subways, and generally acting as if their team hadn't come into the Stadium with their manager on the verge of getting fired, or, for that matter, as if their team hadn't choked their way out of the playoffs last September despite a huge lead.

In the end, the Yanks were playing so lifelessly that there wasn't much to do other than grin and take it. It was a little bit easier to grin since the more obnoxious Mets fans are like the cast of misfits out of a Mad Max movie, and not terribly good at rubbing it in. Near my section, we had a tubby guy with a cowbell and a bunch of (poorly) handmade signs. His devastating witticisms included chanting "1986" (not a lot of bragging to remind us that the last time your team won a championship was over 21 years ago, and against our hated rivals), leading a chant for Endy Chavez, and then, chanting--for himself--"Cowbell Guy! Cowbell Guy!" Even a Mets fan seated behind me was disgusted: "This guy's a fake. I'm a season ticket holder at Shea, and I've never seen him before."

There was some entertainment value to be drawn from heckling their amateur hour attempts to make us feel bad. Another member of the Mets' freak show--an older lady who looked like a run-down, foul-mouthed Doris Kearns Goodwin--installed herself in our section late in the game, the better to talk smack. A quick reminder of the Mets' follies last September led her into a foaming-at-the-mouth rant against the Phillies: "The Phillies suck. Ryan Howard is a piece of s***, and Jimmy Rollins is a piece of s***."

"Well, that s*** beat you, didn't it?"

She moved away after that, to sit closer to Tubby Cowbell Guy. But despite the amusement that the Mets fans provided, this was a dispiriting loss. This Yankee team isn't right, not by a long stretch. They're completely hapless against lefties (4-9, .637 OPS against southpaws), and it didn't help that the Yanks started five lefties against Perez, who had a .459 OPS allowed to lefties this season. It didn't help that Shelly Duncan and Morgan Ensberg sat this game out, which begs the question: if they're not going to play against Oliver Perez, why are they on the team? It doesn't help that the Attorney General hasn't shown any of the glove magic that's supposed to make up for his weak bat. It doesn't help that after impressing with five homers in April, Melky Cabrera's come back with a .190/.230/.293 May. Mike Mussina is now the guy charged with ending the Yankee losing streak on Tuesday.

  • Ryan Church's 9 homers would lead the Yankees.
  • The Yanks' latest "get fired up" montage is from the movie 300. The whole concept behind these montages is kinda cheesy--they should have stopped after the montage from Rocky II. Do these people know that the Greeks all die in that movie?
  • Maybe I just didn't catch it from my vantage point in left field main, but it didn't look like Joe Girardi came out to argue the fourth inning home run call. I understand that he's emulating Joe Torre, but it's strange that there's a call that could crack the game wide open, and he's letting his players argue with the umps, without his support.


Anonymous said...

1) I made the right call. What a lousy game.

2) The third-base ump made the right call. What a lousy reversal.

--Brother Joe

DJ said...

1) You of all people should know better than to brag about making the right decision for the wrong reasons.

2) I stand corrected on the home run call. It hit the one of the few spots where I couldn't see it, and it still be a homer.